Peepee Falls

Wailuku River State Park / Hilo, Hawaii, USA

About Peepee Falls

Hiking Distance: 1/2-1 mile round trip; scramble
Suggested Time: 30-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-03-09
Date last visited: 2008-02-22

Waterfall Latitude: 19.71501
Waterfall Longitude: -155.13748

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Peepee Falls (or more accurately Pe’epe’e Falls) is a lesser known waterfall about 1.5 miles upstream from the popular Rainbow Falls near downtown Hilo.

I reckon this waterfall was lesser known because the public access viewing area at the Wailuku River State Park seemed more for the Boiling Pots than this waterfall.

Boiling_Pots_011_02222008 - Pe'epe'e Falls
Pe’epe’e Falls

By the way, the Boiling Pots was a series of smaller cascades and pools further downstream that can be a deadly raging torrent in high water.

We actually witnessed how scary it can be at high water when we experienced an unusually heavy rain storm during Super Bowl XLII Weekend back in 2008.

Although it had been said that Peepee Falls plunged 80-100ft, it certainly didn’t look that way.

Based on a crude method where I saw people standing behind the falls and stacked them up in a photo, it seemed more like 50 or 60ft tall instead.

In any case, the plunge pool was surrounded by lava rocks believed to date back to the eruptions of the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes over 3,000 years ago and about 10,000 years ago, respectively.

Scrambling for a closer look at Pe’epe’e Falls

Boiling_Pots_032_02222008 - A pair of people swimming in one of the pools within the Boiling Pots when the conditions were calm
A pair of people swimming in one of the pools within the Boiling Pots when the conditions were calm

Since the view of the falls from the official lookout seemed to leave a lot to be desired, we went ahead and scrambled for a closer look as the falls was roughly about a quarter-mile away.

We must say that we made this attempt with trepidation as many people died here due to flash floods or who foolishly tried to cross the stream in high water.

Needless to say, this was something we only attempted when Wailuku River was in low flow, and when we saw plenty of other people swim or cross the river.

The primitive scramble path began on the right side of the overlook as it descended to the lava rocks on the banks of the Wailuku River.

From there, we were able to continue upstream along the river before we saw where the river crossing was reasonably short but not dangerously fast-moving and deep.

Boiling_Pots_003_02222008 - The view upstream from the lookout showing the context Pe'epe'e Falls with the Wailuku River and the scramble necessary to get all the way to the waterfall
The view upstream from the lookout showing the context Pe’epe’e Falls with the Wailuku River and the scramble necessary to get all the way to the waterfall

There was a section where I was able to cross onto a mini-island where the Wailuku River split.

That allowed me to only get wet (about thigh-deep to waist-deep) on the far side of the crossing in low water.

I wouldn’t have made the attempt if the river’s flow was any higher than this.

Julie didn’t join me so she held the keys and wallet (keeping me from drenching them accidentally).

I just kept the camera high over my head trying my best to make sure not to fall and accidentally dunk it like I did in the past.

Boiling_Pots_016_02222008 - This was the hidden small waterfall that could only be seen from the plunge pool directly fronting Pe'epe'e Falls
This was the hidden small waterfall that could only be seen from the plunge pool directly fronting Pe’epe’e Falls

Once I got to the other side, I had to scramble a bit more before I finally got to the plunge pool right across from the Peepee Falls (see photo at the top of this page).

To the left of it, I saw another waterfall that would otherwise be hidden from anyone who didn’t make this scramble.

I did notice a handful of folks scramble all the way to the backside of the falls, which was something I chose not to do.


Pe’epe’e Falls resides in Wailuku River State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website.

Peepee_Falls_001_03092007 - The car park for Wailuku River State Park
Peepee_Falls_005_03092007 - Looking downstream at the Boiling Pots from the overlook
Peepee_Falls_006_03092007 - Distant look at Pe'epe'e Falls from the overlook
Peepee_Falls_010_03092007 - The falls still looked pretty far away
Peepee_Falls_026_03092007 - Zoomed in on a distant view of the Pe'epe'e Falls
Boiling_Pots_006_02222008 - Joining a bunch of people to scramble closer to Peepee Falls
Boiling_Pots_001_jx_02222008 - Getting closer to the falls
Boiling_Pots_029_02222008 - Hidden waterfall
Boiling_Pots_008_02222008 - Looking across the plunge pool at Peepee Falls
Boiling_Pots_002_jx_02222008 - Starting to head back
Boiling_Pots_017_02022008 - Boiling Pots were really churning on that day!

From the Hilo Airport at the Hwy 19 and Hwy 11 junction with Banyan Drive in Hilo, we headed west on Hwy 19 for about 3 miles to Waianuenue Ave. Then, we turned left and took Waianuenue Ave west following the “Boiling Pots” signs, which helped to guide us. About 2 miles past the Hwy 200 junction (1.5 miles west of Rainbow Falls turnoff), we turned right from Waianuenue Ave onto Pe’epe’e Falls Street and continued to the Wailuku River State Park car park on the left.

To give you some geographical context, Hilo was 79 miles (under 2 hours drive) east of Kailua-Kona via the Saddle Road. Otherwise, taking the more conventional route along Hwy 19 through Waikoloa, Waikoloa Village, and Waimea, this drive would be 96 miles long taking over 2 hours.

Find A Place To Stay

Fixated on the falls with the sound of an aircraft overhead

Left to right sweep starting at the Pe'epe'e Falls and ending at the churning Boiling Pots

Left to right sweep of the Wailuku River and the falls itself

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Tagged with: boiling pots, hilo, rainbow falls, wailuku river, state park, hawaii, waterfall, big island

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Pe’epe’e Falls, The Big Island, Hawaii June 11, 2009 4:24 pm by _Anonymous9 - By far my favorite on the islands, because you can actually park your car, hike to the falls and swim in the amazing pool. Its a short, 40 minute, but difficult boulder hopping hike upstream to the falls, but well worth it. ...Read More
Waiale Falls – Hilo, Big Island – Garden of Eden January 20, 2009 5:51 am by Roger Weight - When I first saw this scene, it looked like what I would imagine the Garden of Eden would look like. I too, love waterfall pictures and have taken many pictures of them in the Hawaiian Islands, the western United States and Canada. Roger ...Read More

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